This project involves developing the existing 80-acre woodland park, once the Wandesford Estate. Specific project elements include the establishment of cycle trails and other outdoor activities for the Kilkenny community. The cycle trails will be suitable for families and less experienced mountain bikers. There is also potential for more advanced trails to be built in the area formally used for open cast mining. As part of this development it is proposed that innovative interpretation is integrated into the trails and features, bringing to life the many stories associated with the history of the estate and surrounding area.
About the non-profit Castlecomer Discovery Park
For hundreds of years Castlecomer was defined by the coalmining industry. It informed the fabric of its economic, social and cultural like. So, when the mines closed in 1969, it was a huge blow and since then the area became more and more economically deprived.
Listen to Kathy Purcell, Strategic Business Development Manager, Castlecomer Discovery Park
Recognising that traditional manufacturing would not be coming back, a group of locals came together with the idea of setting up a tourism enterprise that would pay tribute to the coalmining heritage of the town including the geological richness of the area. The goal was to bring some renewed economic activity to the area, create jobs and regenerate the town.
Castlecomer Discovery Park was born from this “people power” initiative.
Castlecomer Discovery Park (CDP) opened to the public in 2007. It comprises some 80 acres of woodland, including two man-made lakes, and originally formed part of the Castlecomer House Demesne (the Wandesforde Estate). The Park offers a variety of outdoor activities to visitors, including boating and canoeing, orienteering, archery, a tree-top walk, a high-ropes Octagon course, Ireland’s longest zip-line and a junior play area. There is also a coal-mining museum and café. Castlecomer Craft Yard, which houses a number of crafts people and artists, shares the site but is separately managed. Visitor numbers have grown considerably over CDP’s years of operation, rising from 31,500 in 2010 to 144,000 in 2019, including both paying and non-paying visitors.
The Park is managed by Castlecomer Demesne CLG, a social enterprise operating on a not-for-profit basis. The Company is focused on the development of the Park as a national tourist destination and, in doing so, it contributes to the stimulation of local economic activity, employment and the regeneration of Castlecomer.
The park is closely linked with Kilkenny County Council and the park is included in the County development plan from its importance as a key driver for economic growth for the town of Castlecomer, its tourism potential for the county and as a key recreational resource for the citizens of the County.
About the Kilkenny County Council
Kilkenny County Council is the local Authority for County Kilkenny, delivering local public services and promoting economic, social & cultural development.
Project Cost Breakdown (Per Kilkenny County Council)
|Main Proposed Project Developments|
|Replacement for Tree-Tops Walk||€ 150,470|
|Elf Village upgrade· mainly in-house build||€ 22,571|
|Event Dome Fit out and upgrade||€ 22,571|
|Site Development: water. sewerage, orientation||€ 33,856|
|Car park improvement||€ 37,618|
|Cycling trails||€ 263,323|
|Woodland play zones, mainly in-house build||€ 11,285|
|Mine surveyor trail mainly in-house build||€ 7,524|
|Outdoor Escape Room||€ 11,285|
|Indoor mobile climbing wall||€ 18,809|
|New lay-out of Visitor Centre incl retail||€ 18,809|
|camping& RV Site||€ 112,853|
|Other Potential developments consideration|
|Indoor Escape Room||€ 22,571|
|Bush craft/survival in 28 Acres||€ 30,094|
|Going Underground(or alternative)||€ 150,470|
|Bike Hub||€ 37,618|
|Trail Interpretation||€ 15,047|
|New carparks||€ 120,376|
View Other Kilkenny Civic Trust Projects:
- Digital Projector for Kilkenny's Not-for-Profit Watergate Community Theatre
- Re-plant Kilkenny's 19th century Woodstock formal gardens and arboretum
- Kilkenny's St Mary’s 18th century Almshouses ('poor house') Restoration
- Trace 600 year old ancestors from Kilkenny's St. Mary's Church
- Archaeological excavation of 13th century Kilkenny parish church
- Teaching Kilkenny's 8-12 year old children about their city's medieval history
- Protect over 500 Kilkenny family burial plots
- Kilkenny Castle Yard & Butler House Conservation Project